Parker Michaels continues his NHL Season Preview series in reverse to first order according to his projected standings. Be sure to bookmark our Season Previews home base here where links to all 31 teams will appear as they’re posted. Today at No. 30, the Vancouver Canucks.
It is the end of an era in Vancouver. And what an incredible era it was. Nineteen years ago, then-GM Brian Burke pulled off a trio of the greatest pre-draft trades in history to secure the second and third overall picks in the 1999 Entry Draft where he would select Daniel and Henrik Sedin together. The greatest era in Canucks history was underway.
Now 19 years later and 17 NHL seasons, the Sedin twins will no longer suit up for the Canucks as they officially retired upon the conclusion of last season, but their legacy will last a lifetime. The brothers leave as the franchise 1-2 leaders in games played, assists and total points with over 1,000 each. Daniel is also the franchise leader with nearly 400 goals scored. Both players earned an Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top point scorer (back-to-back in 2009-10, 2010-11) while Henrik earned the Hart Trophy with his in 2010.
About the only disappointment the pair suffered when it came to numbers is the lack of a championship during their time, losing in seven games of the 2011 Finals to the Boston Bruins in their lone Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
One of my favorite stories involving the twins is when former Canucks head coach Marc Crawford lost his cool with them one time (and about the only time). In the locker room during the intermission of a game, Crawford was irate about a missed faceoff assignment and ripped into Henrik in front of the entire team. Henrik took the criticism without a word. Afterwards, Daniel privately spoke to Crawford and told him it was, in fact, himself, who had taken that faceoff and not his brother.
It was an embarrassing moment for Crawford at the time but neither twin showed him up in front of the team. It is just one of a thousand examples that speaks of the selflessness of the Sedins and how they always put the success of the team ahead of their own.
Daniel and Henrik will be missed on the ice by not only Canucks fans but for anyone who is a fan of great hockey players and even greater people. Their accomplishments off the ice have been equally felt in the Vancouver community with the amount of involvement and commitment they have given back and that will continue for the twins as they have no plans to leave.
The Sedins legacy will live forever around the hockey world. The original creators of the “slap pass”, which has become a regular part of every game now and, of course, no one did the long bank pass better. One hopes the new era of superstars on the Vancouver Canucks can conduct themselves with a fraction of the same professionalism and class as the Sedins before them.
Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman and fellow Swedish countryman probably said it best with, “They’re one-of-a-kind, but, obviously, two guys.”
Record: 31-40-11 (73 points), 7th in Pacific Division, 26th Overall
Playoffs: Missed by 22 points
The Canucks missed the playoffs for the fourth time in the past five years and have not won a playoff series since their 2011 Finals appearance. A whirlwind of injuries made a bad season even worse, including veteran forward Derek Dorsett who was forced to retire the end of November due to a serious neck injury. Only four players managed to have healthy seasons and play 75 or more games and two of those were the always durable Sedins. Even with the numerous injuries, 26-year old Alexander Burmistrov was still unable to find playing time and after yet another healthy scratch in December, asked for a release and an official retirement from the NHL to explore playing opportunities overseas. No player surpassed 55 points which left Vancouver as the only team in the Western Conference to not have a player hit the 60-point mark, although that was also a direct result due to an injury.
Rookie Brock Boeser was without a doubt the highlight of the season for Vancouver, scoring 29 goals and 26 assists in 62 games to finish second in Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year. If not for a season-ending back injury that wiped out his final 16 games of the season, Boeser would have likely scored 35+ goals and around 70 points.
Other than Boeser’s firepower, the offense struggled for consistency scoring just 218 goals (2.66 per game) and finishing in the bottom five of league scoring for the third consecutive season, although it was a 36-goal improvement over 2016-17’s dismal 182 goal season. Where a positive improvement could be considered for the offense, the defense regressed the other way allowing 264 total goals (3.22 per game), 21 more than the previous season. Not only was the defense a disaster in their own end, their ability to drive offense and create scoring opportunities was virtually nonexistent. Only two defenseman scored more than three goals on the season (Edler and Del Zotto each had six).
GM Jim Benning made a couple of inexplicable trades during the season, starting with trading prospect Jordan Subban to Los Angeles for depth player Nic Dowd in December. Dowd played 40 games, recording just three goals and left as a free agent to sign with the Capitals in the offseason, netting zero return for Subban. Thomas Vanek, their biggest trade chip, was dealt to Columbus at the deadline for an uninspiring package of veteran Jussi Jokinen and young center Tyler Motte – not even a draft pick. Jokinen did not re-sign after the season while Motte may peak as an AHL depth piece.
The season mercifully came to an end with a proper sendoff for the Sedins in an ever-lasting highlight reel moment. In the team’s final home game of the season against Arizona, the Canucks erased a 3-1 third period deficit to force overtime where the storybook ending came to be. Henrik – to Daniel – goal. I remember watching the game at home with a friend and we both could not help but shed a tear in what was a perfect and truly unforgettable hockey moment. Vancouver would go on to lose the final game of the Sedins era in Edmonton a couple nights later but after another difficult season, the Canucks fans had one final incredible memory, at least.
While the Sedins were still an effective duo for the Canucks, there was no denying the pair were indirectly delaying a full rebuild desperately needed for the franchise. Now with their contracts finally off the books, the Canucks front office added $14 million to their available salary cap space and no longer have an excuse to delay a proper rebuild. While the team has a few bright pieces in the system, reality dictated throwing money at a couple of high priced superstars was not going to be enough to transform themselves into a playoff contender.
Revamping an overpaid, underperforming blueline should have been a priority, at least one would have thought. As of late August, no moves have been made on the backend and it appears the club will enter training camp with the same group as last year. Instead, Benning decided it would be best to improve the defense on his third and fourth forward lines, in hopes of freeing up what he hopes is an explosive offense with his young, top-six forwards.
Veteran depth forwards Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller were handed rich contracts – with term – a combination punch to the gut from most fans perspective.
Somewhere along the line, the vision of a rebuild for President Trevor Linden and the rest of the front office veered off onto different paths and after these early summer moves, the franchise legend surprisingly decided to step down in late July. Linden, himself, admitted two seasons ago that a full rebuild was not fair to the Sedins while they were still playing. With their retirement, it seems Linden’s plans for moving forward were not met with approval from Benning and/or team owner, Francesco Aguilini. Linden said he had talked to other teams about how their own recent rebuilds went and wanted to do it the right way, while according to a report, Aguilini wants to make the playoffs right now and still is not committed to a long-term rebuild.
Benning will take over Linden’s responsibilities as president of hockey operations which does not bode well based on history of the moves made by the current general manager, and with the owner’s stubbornness on a proper rebuild, the beleaguered fan base should be waving the white flag and reaching for the crying towel.
Stanley Cup: +15000 (Bookmaker)
Western Conference: +7500 (Bookmaker)
Pacific Division: +10000 (Bookmaker)
Regular Season Points: 77.5 (-115) (Bovada, MyBookie), 76.5 (-115, -105) (Bookmaker)
Make Playoffs: YES +625, NO -1000 (Sportsbook.ag)
Current Odds as of August 28, 2018
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
*Predicting depth charts is often called a fool’s errand and can be as difficult as predicting where a team will finish in the standings. Nonetheless, I decided to undertake this impossible task and am confident (as one can possibly be doing this task, anyway) with the below information heading into training camp. All attempts will be made to update these charts once camp is underway and head coaches change their mind a thousand times.
*Individual Player Ratings involve the base formula created by Justin Kubatko at hockey-reference.com. An explanation of how I use his methods can be found here with a more detailed methodology by Kubatko himself, here
*Salaries in green denote entry-level contract
NHL RANK: 29
With Henrik Sedin’s retirement, the reins will be officially handed to Bo Horvat to step into the spotlight as the first line center. There have been some growing pains for Horvat, but he still managed to set a career-high with 22 goals last season, despite missing 18 games over most of December and January with an ankle injury. His point-per-game ratio has steadily increased in each of his four seasons, along with his ice-time, shots on goal and advanced puck possession numbers. Horvat was an excellent playmaker alongside Boeser last year and while some fans seemed to have soured on the 23-year old, Horvat should blossom even further this season and push the 60-point mark.
Canucks fans are not going to like this next part, but the truth of the matter is this is what head coach Travis Green has in store. Brandon Sutter has been depended upon as a defensive bottom-six center but also carried the expectation to help drive the offense, which he has mostly failed. Green has talked about giving Sutter a chance to fill the second scoring line while easing super prospect Elias Pettersson in on the wing. Make no mistake, this spot should (all will) be Pettersson’s at some point this season but for now I will go with what Green has discussed and slot Sutter here. With the addition of Jay Beagle, who will take a load of the defensive responsibility, Sutter should be freed up to take advantage of more offensive chances. Odds are, Sutter will not live up to those expectations and slide down to the third line (where Sutter has stated as being the more comfortable spot for himself). To be fair, Green has said he will try Pettersson at center during training camp, too, but made it clear he will have to earn the center spot and it will not be handed to him. I would not be surprised if that full-time promotion came as early as some point in camp. For now, Sutter as the number two sounds like the plan to start.
Penciled into the third line spot will be Markus Granlund. The versatility of Granlund gives Green a lot of options and while he probably lines up better as a winger, gets the nod right now due to a lack of talented options. Sam Gagner could also fill this spot, but he is coming off a terrible season and will likely be shifted to the wing.
It raised a lot of eyebrows when Jay Beagle was given a four-year, $12 million contract, but money and term aside, while the veteran may not offer the most upside on the ice, there is no denying he will be a positive boost in the locker room and a strong mentor to help begin the new era in Vancouver on a team lacking experience. Those are intangible qualities most stats guys do not like to talk about, but they provide value nonetheless. It is a rich contract for a 32-year old fourth line center, but Beagle can play a defensive role and that will be his expectation.
The biggest issue I have with the signing of Beagle is the blocking of prospect Adam Gaudette, last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner as the country’s top NCAA player, who should be the first call-up in the event of any injuries down the middle. Gaudette’s versatility to play any of the forward positions means we should see him up on the roster sooner than later.
While this seems to be the most likely plan by Green to begin camp, I imagine the Canucks probably line up opening night with Horvat-Pettersson-Sutter-Beagle down the middle. That build would jump the Canucks up to 21st in my center rankings which would be a lot more respectable, so fear not Canucks fans, the franchise’s depth down the middle is not as poor as it may seem – it might just be poorly managed.
NHL RANK: 30
The left side is the clear weak point of the Canucks lineup, but the top two spots could at least hold some promise. Sven Baertschi missed 28 games last season with separate jaw and shoulder injuries but still managed to put up 14 goals and 29 points in 53 games. The 25-year old has increased his points-per-game rate in each of his three full seasons with Vancouver and seems to carry the most favor with coach Green. Baertschi is the odds-on favorite to emerge training camp in this spot.
Nikolay Goldobin and Brandon Leipsic will also have a chance to compete for the top line spot but probably sees time there only if Baertschi suffers another injury. For now, both should be the favorites to compete for the second line job. I have seen some projection charts suggest newcomer Antoine Roussel will start here but from what I have gathered, he is expected to play in the bottom-six.
Even though his point totals would not suggest it, Goldobin is a talented playmaker but has had trouble finding his game at the NHL level in limited minutes. He saw action in 38 games last year and recorded eight goals and 14 points. Nothing to get excited about but the 22-year old did show well when moved onto the top line with Horvat and Boeser to end the season, compiling seven points in 11 games. Like I said, he will get a look on that line again in camp and maybe Green decides that will be the best spot for him, but for now I will slot him on the more likely second line.
Leipsic is in the position of there being too many bodies for forward openings but if he carries his play from the end of last season into camp, Green is likely to reward him with this spot. After being acquired in a trade with Vegas in February, Leipsic tallied nine points in 14 games while seeing almost 17 minutes of ice-time per night. Personally, I am a major fan of Leipsic and think he deserves a roster spot but the acquisition of Roussel presents a hurdle. The reality is only one of Goldobin or Leipsic earns a regular job in camp while the other will be traded or put on waivers.
I have Loui Eriksson penciled in on the third line on this side but his spot in the lineup is probably the hardest to pinpoint. Since signing a 6-year, $36 million contract before the 2016-17 season, Eriksson has now given a 24 and 23-point season in 115 total games, resulting in an albatross of a contract for an organization who has supposed to be in rebuild-mode for four years now. Green has stated that Eriksson will be given ample opportunity to secure a top-six role again, but I think to start, he makes the most sense here. If Pettersson indeed starts at second line center, then Eriksson probably jumps to his wing on the right side and Markus Granlund slides over to here. Finding a place for Eriksson is a huge headache.
The fourth line spot should belong to Antoine Roussel. Another strange four-year term for a veteran who does not offer a whole lot and takes a spot away from a youngster. I suppose Roussel is a solid, yet unspectacular, player who can help on the penalty kill while providing the occasional goal, but for a team supposed to be giving youth a chance, I would rather see Leipsic or Brendan Gaunce here. Tim Schaller can also play the left side, but I really have no idea what Benning was thinking giving him a two-year deal for nearly four million dollars. Hopefully, he will slot in as a 13/14th depth forward and nothing more.
The final name I will mention here is prospect Jonathan Dahlen, who is not expected to make the roster out of camp but is one of the Canucks top prospects in the pipeline. Dahlen played in the Allsvenskan league last year (second-tier Swedish league) and earned league MVP honors. He has a high-upside offensive game but will benefit from starting in the AHL to get used to the smaller ice size and improve his defensive game. Expect to see him called up at some point this season and one of the first guys (along with Gaudette) if injuries strike.
Overall, the left side is a logjam without a superstar talent and that means a rotation of some sort could be expected throughout the season.
NHL RANK: 10
Vancouver’s right-side rank is buoyed thanks to the placement of Pettersson and while he likely moves to center early on, right wing is still clearly the strength for this team. That all begins with rookie of the year runner-up, Brock Boeser. With a silky-smooth shot, Boeser put up 29 goals and 55 points over 62 games before missing the final month of the season with a lower-back injury. That injury prematurely ended a fantastic season which prevented a run at Pavel Bure’s franchise rookie record of 34 goals but gave Canucks fans a glimpse of what the future holds.
Boeser’s rehab went smoothly and he is now fully healed, as evidenced by his performance in Da Beauty League, a 4-on-4 summer league featuring players with connections to Minnesota. Boeser led the league with 14 goals and 30 points in seven games heading into the playoff round and is ready for the season to begin. It will be difficult to maintain his 16.2 shooting percentage from last year, but more shots on goal with a larger role should provide a counterbalance and could result in seeing Boeser challenge the 40+ goal mark and a dark horse for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer. I would not mind seeing that, at all.
As per Green’s prior comments, camp will open with rookie phenom Elias Pettersson occupying the second line spot. After also starting at right wing in the Swedish Hockey League last year, it should not be a surprise that Green might begin him here, as well. Pettersson is a gifted playmaker and was a giant among men in the SHL, scoring 24 goals and 56 points in 44 games, despite starting as just an 18-year old. Rookie of the Year, Forward of the Year, Most Points by a Junior, League MVP and Playoffs MVP. Pettersson put up the kind of numbers not seen in the SHL since the days of Peter Forsberg. His upside is eventually the number one center spot and the number two centerman at some point this season but look for him to start here on the wing to begin. The Canucks are usually cautious when introducing their rookies and even Boeser was a healthy scratch multiple times early last year for no real reason. When odds for this year’s Calder Trophy open, I will be looking for a decent price on Pettersson as one of my top choices on the board.
The bottom-six should be interesting to watch with a couple of players who need to give more than they produced last season. Jake Virtanen brings a needed physical edge but has not been able to get his offensive game on track. The former top-ten draft pick was finally given a regular role last season but only managed ten goals and 20 points in 75 games. Virtanen is one of several young Canucks players who need to have a successful camp, or they could be on the outside come opening night.
Sam Gagner had a very disappointing season with just ten goals and 31 points in 74 games after signing a 3-year, $9.45 million contract last summer. Coming off a 50-point season with Columbus, expectations were a lot higher for the now-veteran forward. Gagner’s contract might make it difficult to move him and it is unlikely he would serve as an extra forward with that salary. Like Eriksson, the Canucks unfortunately must slot Gagner into the lineup somewhere, at least until guys like Dahlen and Gaudette are ready for a full-time role.
NHL RANK: 29
The Vancouver defense was a sad state last season which lacked a true high-end talent and unfortunately for their fans, it does not appear to be much better this year. Quinn Hughes, the Canucks seventh overall pick in June’s entry draft, declared he would return to the University of Michigan for one more year which is probably a very good decision for his development, but it does not do much to ease the pain of having to watch this year’s crew.
Especially since that crew is expected to be the same seven returning players, at least until highly-regarded prospect Olli Juolevi shows he is fully recovered from offseason back surgery. The number five overall pick from the 2016 draft was supposed to spend the summer improving his conditioning and push for a full-time spot this season, but a microdiscectomy procedure to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve column in mid-June meant Juolevi would be sidelined 8-10 weeks. Alexander Edler underwent the same procedure back in 2011 and was out for the full ten weeks. Juolevi should be about ready now to start ramping up activities, but camp will be opening in just a couple of weeks so the likelihood of him being ready for a regular role may have to wait. Expectation is Juolevi will begin in the AHL and then receive a call-up once he is ready. Once that happens, Juolevi will bring a strong all-around game with excellent speed, a welcome addition to this current group.
Alexander Edler will again enter the Canucks season as their top defenseman, but he may not end that way. Edler enters the final year of his contract and would be a nice trade asset before the deadline if he is willing to move on his no-trade clause. With Juolevi expected in the mix by then and Hughes set to debut next year, the left side will be in good hands, so a deal might make sense.
The temporary place holders on the left side will be Michael Del Zotto and Ben Hutton who both enter the final year of their contract. Green seems to hold a preference for Del Zotto based on his 20+ minutes of ice-time per game, second only to Edler, and should slot in on the second pair. A best-case scenario would be for Del Zotto to remain healthy and relatively productive, so they could move him at the deadline for a draft pick. Hutton has shown well on the advanced metrics in terms of shot differentials but seemed to end up in Green’s doghouse for some reason last year. He probably possesses more upside than what the Canucks allowed him to show but will likely fight for playing time again with Derrick Pouliot, who had a fine first season in Vancouver with 22 points and positive shot differentials.
NHL RANK: 31
Vancouver’s right-side projects to be the worst statistically of all 31 teams but this group still has a couple of capable players, in my opinion. Troy Stecher took a step back offensively in his progression last year with just 11 points, after a quietly successful 24-point rookie season. He has shown glimpses of promise but lacks consistency, especially on the defensive end, and is not a true top pair guy. Stecher is still just 24 as he enters his third season, so hopefully he can put it all together this year.
The Canucks top defender on this side is Chris Tanev but Green moved him down to the second pair around the midway point of last season, to better balance his top-four, and that seems like his intention once again this year. Tanev does not bring much to the offensive end but is their best shutdown defender and still does a decent job in that regard. The veteran blueliner had a tough-go last year missing 40 games due to injuries to his leg, knee, groin, thumb and mouth. The poor guy seemed beat up all season. Tanev has had injury issues throughout his career but the Canucks are a better team when he is on the ice, so hopefully a healthier season lies ahead.
The final slot belongs to the hulking Erik Gudbranson, if by nothing more than default. This slow, plodding beast brings little to the table on the offensive end and even less on the defensive side. Unfortunately, Benning decided to re-up on this guy with a 3-year, $12 million contract extension back in February. Also, unfortunately, all the Canucks prospects who are almost NHL-ready play on the left side. Sorry Canucks fans, but it appears you have a four-million-dollar man on your third pair for the next three years. Ouch. Alex Biega also plays the right side and was the extra d-man last year and would probably be a considerable upgrade over Gudbranson but is a 30-year old defender making just $825,000 so guess who gets the spot.
Overall, the future is bright with help on the way in Juolevi and Hughes and Jett Woo (a potential shutdown defender selected 37th overall in June’s draft) but for the immediate future the Canucks project to have the NHL’s worst defense and it is not even close.
NHL RANK: 27
(Starter – 27th, Backup – t-38th)
The Canucks are the envy of many clubs when it comes to their goaltending – in the minors. The 6’4 Thatcher Demko is the future of goaltending in Vancouver but likely still needs another season in the AHL to fine-tune his development. A very strong butterfly style goalie who handles the puck well, Demko was so great last year for Utica he received an unexpected call-up and played a single game for Vancouver at the end of March. Demko could see a handful of games with the big club at some point this season with a potential full-time role on the horizon next year when Anders Nilsson’s contract expires.
The other dynamo netminder in the Canucks system is 19-year old Michael DiPietro (no relation to former Isles goaltender Rick DiPietro). Playing in the OHL, DiPietro single-handedly carried a poor Windsor Spitfires team to the playoffs where he continued to impress with a .934 save percentage in six games. He is still a few years away from being ready for the NHL, but Canucks fans should be able to get a good preview of what he offers this winter when DiPietro should play (and maybe start) for Canada at the World Juniors Tournament.
As for now, Jacob Markstrom enters the season as the unquestioned number one starter, partly because he showed he can handle the larger load last year and partly since his backup played so poor. Markstrom started a career-high 57 games in his first real chance to be a regular starter and finished with a league-average .912 save percentage. Honestly, if the Canucks can get league-average goaltending again, it would be a win for this season, and they should probably expect exactly that with Markstrom having a career average of .911 over his five years with Vancouver.
Anders Nilsson owned a .900 save percentage over 52 career games before parlaying a .923 season in just 26 games with Buffalo in 2016-17 into a 2-year, $2.5 million contract with the Canucks last summer. With Markstrom unproven in the starter’s role, the Canucks thought they were signing an insurance policy by bringing in Nilsson. It should not have been much of a surprise to see the career backup revert to his career norm with a .901 percentage in 27 games. Under contract for just one more season, the Canucks will hope to get a bit better performance for their dollar before replacing him with Demko next year.
I was half inclined to list Travis Green here as this season’s x-factor in a half-joking, half-serious manner. The Canucks currently have an overflow of forwards and how Green settles on deploying who plays and who sits is going to have a major impact on how well this team performs. The single most important wild card though should be Elias Pettersson. It is not a question on how much Pettersson will play or whether he starts on the wing or under center but rather how well he handles playing against real NHL competition.
As far as his on-ice abilities go, the casual fan may have no idea what kind of skill this kid is bringing with him to the NHL. He is a pure sniper with an unbelievably accurate shot – even better than Boeser – but also possesses the skill of a premier playmaker. If you missed the accolades he earned in the SHL I listed above, here they are again:
- Rookie of the Year
- Forward of the Year
- SHL MVP
- SHL Playoffs MVP
- Most Points by a Junior
That last one broke the league record for a junior player under the age of 20 held by Kent Nilsson in 1975-76. The next five names on that list? Peter Forsberg, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Markus Naslund and Nicklas Backstrom. Impressive company and Pettersson crushed them all.
I have painted a pretty picture for the Canucks prospect, right? Well, let us discuss a couple of things which make him an x-factor. One of the knocks on Pettersson has been his slight frame and how being undersized is going to hold him back in the NHL. He dummied defenders as an 18-year old last year in the SHL, the premier men’s league in Sweden but no other league in the world is quite the same as preparing for the size and strength found in the NHL. It will be interesting to see how much size Pettersson has added this summer when he enters camp next month.
A bulk of Pettersson’s success came on the powerplay last year, with 26 of his league-high 56 points coming with the man advantage. He used the bigger European ice to his advantage and thrives in extra space. The NHL is not going to provide that space as easily so exactly how well will his skills translate?
Lastly, Pettersson played mostly on the wing in Sweden but did see some time at center later in the season. He struggled defensively when in the middle and that seems to be the biggest flaw in his game still. As I stated above, Pettersson is without a doubt a future top center for Vancouver but the idea of Green starting him on the wing is probably not the worst idea.
With that said, I have Pettersson projected to be the top rookie in the NHL this season and although the Sabres Rasmus Dahlen will likely be the odds-on favorite for the Calder Trophy, I will be looking for odds on The Swedish Sensation*.
I have Vancouver projected for 71.6 points, a last place finish in the Pacific Division and Western Conference and 30th overall in the NHL. Several offshore sportsbooks opened Vancouver at 77.5 while Bookmaker is a point lower at 76.5 regular season points. The current Futures market places the Canucks between 27th and 30th to win the Stanley Cup, so I obviously have them projected on the lowest end of that range. So, are the Canucks worse off than the 73 points they put up last year?
The Sedins may not have been the dominant force of yesteryear but they still combined to put up 26 goals, 105 total points and excellent shot differentials. The additions of Roussel, Beagle and Schaller hardly come close to making up that offensive output but with the potential of Pettersson, a full season of Boeser and a healthy top line, the Canucks should net more goals this year, especially if they can squeeze anything out of Eriksson and Gagner. The problem remains with the defense who lack a star-quality talent, but is essentially the same group as last year so how much worse could they be? If you say that group can remain at the level of last year’s dreadfulness and you get average goaltending from Markstrom again, then the team should be poised to be a bit better thanks to the offense, right?
In fact, I do have Vancouver projected to be one full point better at 74 points based on just their own roster. Unfortunately, many teams within their division project for larger improvements so when taken into effect with the entire Pacific Division (and the Central to a lesser degree), the Canucks come out with a slightly less overall projection for this season – even though I believe they ice a better team than last year, if that makes sense.
Based on this, a bet on the under 77.5 points would hold some value and be the recommendation. In addition, keep an eye out for Season Props on the individual trophy awards. Boeser for the league’s Rocket Richard top goal scorer should be an attractive price and Pettersson for the Calder rookie of the year will be on my radar and they should be on yours, as well. I will have separate articles up in September for those awards so we will see if there is any value to be had at that time.
Salary numbers from capfriendly.com, stats from hockey-reference.com and naturalstattrick.com